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Our Blog
December 30, 2013 | Lori Wilson

The Future of Evangelicalism: Difference and Reconciliation

As 2013 comes to a close, our friends over at RespectfulConversation.net conclude their seven-month project with an exploration of the future of American Evangelicalism. Throughout the series, contributors have offered a wide range of perspectives – and of course this month is no different. There is, however, a recurring theme in this final set of posts that resonates with the work of TCF. As these writers look toward the future of evangelicalism in America, many of them express a deep hope that the church will find ways to pursue reconciliation across difference.

Amy Black writes longingly of a church that, in its unity, presents a compelling vision of God’s love for the world. A church united, she suggests, will create a welcoming space for the many young people who are leaving the faith. She suggests:

Our faith communities should seek to build the strong and lasting multigenerational friendships that are so essential for helping young people learn the faith and continue to follow Christ into adulthood.

Sarah Ruden calls the American church to pursue unity with the church worldwide. She describes the ways in which US Christians might learn from – and be challenged by – their brothers and sisters in the majority world.

In a similar vein, Amos Yong writes of the impact on the church of globalization, migration, and post-denominational Christianity. He suggests that as the body of Christ comes together to pursue obedience in the face of these significant shifts, the church will continue to grow and bear much fruit.

Kyle Roberts contributes the final post, in which he calls on the Evangelical church to find both its identity and vocation in the Gospel – the “unparalleled story of God’s project of reconciliation.” He writes:

The vocation of evangelical Christians, then, is to proclaim by word, deed, and life the story of reconciliation and to witness to that story of redemption. On the corporate, communal level, reconciliation with God becomes, by natural extension, reconciliation with others.

For us at TCF – a ministry of education and reconciliation – these posts present a hopeful call to the church. Differences abound, to be sure – but ultimately, the call on our lives is to respond to God’s love. We do this by pursuing the truth in love, and while this is no easy task, it does indeed hold out hope for our future together.

Suggested Posts
The Banner: Practicing the Ministry of Reconciliation - by Michael Gulker
September 16, 2019 | Michael Gulker
The Banner: Practicing the Ministry of Reconciliation - by Michael Gulker
Fear and conflict—and fear of conflict—dominate many of the headlines on our news feeds these days. These conflicts (and conflict avoidance) are ripping apart our nations, denominations, congregations, and even our families. According to a study by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, “The top reasons why people leave a church have to do with not being connected in the church and/or being revolted by gossip and turned away by conflict and strife.” Not being connected. Being revolted. These responses are likely the result of our refusal to engage the many conflicts separating us, or our tendency to engage them badly. We’re tired of it—really tired of it. So how can we do better? Read more...
Reclaiming Jesus
February 14, 2019 | Gene Miyamoto
Reclaiming Jesus
“The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Wicked Problems The “Wicked Problem” of today’s political climate can present us a wonderful, if challenging, opportunity for polarized Christians and churches to gather as one body. It gives us the chance to face our conflict and brokenness, learn through the Spirit to lovingly “fight” well together and to become stronger; to be held together in Christ (Colossians 1:17) and known as Christ’s disciples through our love of one another (John 13:35).  Reclaiming Jesus is a letter from a group of Christian leaders acting upon their conscience, coram deo, posting six theses that affirm what they believe and what they reject, specifically related to several pivotal issues that are driving separation across our society. In the letter, they denounce racism, particularly white supremacy; oppression and abuse of women; abandonment of the vulnerable, the poor, immigrants and refugees; normalization of lying and the undermining of the public accountability to truth; autocratic and authoritarian rule; and xenophobic ethnic nationalism. Their declaration calls to churches for a process of prayer, discernment and turning away from complicity in politics that undermines the theology of being seen as disciples of Christ through love for one another. The authors repudiate “those at the highest levels of political leadership” who incite such behaviors, implying but without naming President Trump.  Critics of this statement, such as the author of the 6/10/18 The Washington Times’ op-ed, “Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing,” focus primarily on hyperbolic criticism of the “Reclaiming Jesus” authors, rather than offering biblical exegesis illuminating counter-points.  Choose Loving Engagement Over Rhetoric But rhetoric isn’t the point. Rather than trying to convince the other to come over to our side or engaging in a vitriolic argument that simply drives us further apart, we have the opportunity to change the conversation. We can recognize these kinds of opinion differences – these conflicts – as Christ-given possibilities to offer a new way to approach our disagreements.    In this case, both sides are equally impassioned, equally committed to revealing the “truth.” It is precisely, squarely within the realm of disagreement between two sides such as these where we have the chance to deepen our relationships with God and one another. For the pastors, local churches and young people watching and waiting to see what liturgical leaders will say and do in response to this, and other arguments, that are playing out on the national stage, be encouraged. Because polarized Christians who gather and lovingly engage and learn well together as one body held together in Christ provides a wonderful opportunity for leadership and discipleship.  Let’s defy Dr. King’s observation. Let’s join our voices to create a beautiful sound, change the way we argue, and both lift up and restore the church and its people.

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